More than a cursory scan makes it rather apparent that Maia’s powers are not some fabrication of her mind, reinforced by the abusive circus employees, but quite real.
Maia Gasol is probably not the child of the woman who was asking about her. She is the daughter of an Air Force pilot. The woman who saw here was her former nanny. She was "lost" only in the sense that her nanny was watching her when she was kidnapped.
Her parents did not reject her; she was kidnapped.
Here Skelly, another circus performer, tells Maia how Rictus, the circus master, found out about her.
“Not so far from this spot, they hear rumors about a child, the daughter of an American Air Force pilot, who could move her hair to and yon and wherever she wants. Ain’t that unusual?”
Note that Skelly seems to find this credible.
Further, Skelly was himself involved in kidnapping Maia for the circus.
“Ya was only four, but ya kicked and screamed and that hair like to snap my wrists. You wanted you ma and dad and nanny so badly, it near ruined my soul.”
Well, here’s someone besides Maia who has observed her hair moving of its own accord.
Skelly himself obviously believes that her hair can move by itself, and from the way he tells his story, Rictus and his friend do as well. Why bother kidnapping the daughter of an Air Force pilot for your sideshow unless you get more out of it than you would get from grabbing a genuine orphan from a lower-profile target in some country with less accountability?
And here Rictus certainly seems to be supporting Skelly’s story.
So you told her everything, didn’t you, Skelly?
And here she is choking Horst with her locks. We can’t really hope for better evidence than photographic:
As the story is presented, it is quite clear that Maia is merely an girl with supernatural powers of autotrichokinesis who has suffered a great deal of abuse, not an traumatized survivor with extensive delusions.
Furthermore, God has spoken!
As for what her powers are:
- Her hair is motile. Sometimes it moves by itself, in response to her emotions, but she can also control it. It seems to be capable of exerting large forces.
- She may not be a classical medusa. Though Rictus claims that she was born in Greece, she is in reality American by birth. She also does not have snakes for hair, but rather hair that can move.
She does not automatically petrify people if they meet her gaze. That is simply something Rictus made up, as she tells us quite plainly. In addition, she obviously does not wear lenses when not part of the show, and no one was turned to a statue. However, it would appear that while Rictus may have played up her petrification abilities for his audience, they are quite real.
She may very well have superhuman strength.